Documentation and Samples for the Official HN API.
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README.md

Hacker News API

Overview

In partnership with Firebase, we're making the public Hacker News data available in near real time. Firebase enables easy access from Android, iOS and the web. Servers aren't left out.

If you can use one of the many Firebase client libraries you really should. The libraries handle networking efficiently and can raise events when things change. Be sure to check them out.

Please email api@ycombinator.com if you find any bugs.

URI and Versioning

We hope to improve the API over time, and may later enable access to private per-user data using OAuth. The changes won't always be backward compatible, so we're going to use versioning. This first iteration will have URIs prefixed with https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/ and is structured as described below. There is currently no rate limit.

For versioning purposes, only removal of a non-optional field or alteration of an existing field will be considered incompatible changes. Clients should gracefully handle additional fields they don't expect, and simply ignore them.

Design

The v0 API is essentially a dump of our in-memory data structures. We know, what works great locally in memory isn't so hot over the network. Many of the awkward things are just the way HN works internally. Want to know the total number of comments on an article? Traverse the tree and count. Want to know the children of an item? Load the item and get their IDs, then load them. The newest page? Starts at item maxid and walks backward, keeping only the top level stories. Same for Ask, Show, etc.

I'm not saying this to defend it - It's not the ideal public API, but it's the one we could release in the time we had. While awkward, it's possible to implement most of HN using it.

Items

Stories, comments, jobs, Ask HNs and even polls are just items. They're identified by their ids, which are unique integers, and live under https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/item/.

All items have some of the following properties, with required properties in bold:

Field Description
id The item's unique id.
deleted true if the item is deleted.
type The type of item. One of "job", "story", "comment", "poll", or "pollopt".
by The username of the item's author.
time Creation date of the item, in Unix Time.
text The comment, story or poll text. HTML.
dead true if the item is dead.
parent The item's parent. For comments, either another comment or the relevant story. For pollopts, the relevant poll.
kids The ids of the item's comments, in ranked display order.
url The URL of the story.
score The story's score, or the votes for a pollopt.
title The title of the story, poll or job.
parts A list of related pollopts, in display order.
descendants In the case of stories or polls, the total comment count.

For example, a story: https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/item/8863.json?print=pretty

{
  "by" : "dhouston",
  "descendants" : 71,
  "id" : 8863,
  "kids" : [ 8952, 9224, 8917, 8884, 8887, 8943, 8869, 8958, 9005, 9671, 8940, 9067, 8908, 9055, 8865, 8881, 8872, 8873, 8955, 10403, 8903, 8928, 9125, 8998, 8901, 8902, 8907, 8894, 8878, 8870, 8980, 8934, 8876 ],
  "score" : 111,
  "time" : 1175714200,
  "title" : "My YC app: Dropbox - Throw away your USB drive",
  "type" : "story",
  "url" : "http://www.getdropbox.com/u/2/screencast.html"
}

comment: https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/item/2921983.json?print=pretty

{
  "by" : "norvig",
  "id" : 2921983,
  "kids" : [ 2922097, 2922429, 2924562, 2922709, 2922573, 2922140, 2922141 ],
  "parent" : 2921506,
  "text" : "Aw shucks, guys ... you make me blush with your compliments.<p>Tell you what, Ill make a deal: I'll keep writing if you keep reading. K?",
  "time" : 1314211127,
  "type" : "comment"
}

ask: https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/item/121003.json?print=pretty

{
  "by" : "tel",
  "descendants" : 16,
  "id" : 121003,
  "kids" : [ 121016, 121109, 121168 ],
  "score" : 25,
  "text" : "<i>or</i> HN: the Next Iteration<p>I get the impression that with Arc being released a lot of people who never had time for HN before are suddenly dropping in more often. (PG: what are the numbers on this? I'm envisioning a spike.)<p>Not to say that isn't great, but I'm wary of Diggification. Between links comparing programming to sex and a flurry of gratuitous, ostentatious  adjectives in the headlines it's a bit concerning.<p>80% of the stuff that makes the front page is still pretty awesome, but what's in place to keep the signal/noise ratio high? Does the HN model still work as the community scales? What's in store for (++ HN)?",
  "time" : 1203647620,
  "title" : "Ask HN: The Arc Effect",
  "type" : "story",
  "url" : ""
}

job: https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/item/192327.json?print=pretty

{
  "by" : "justin",
  "id" : 192327,
  "score" : 6,
  "text" : "Justin.tv is the biggest live video site online. We serve hundreds of thousands of video streams a day, and have supported up to 50k live concurrent viewers. Our site is growing every week, and we just added a 10 gbps line to our colo. Our unique visitors are up 900% since January.<p>There are a lot of pieces that fit together to make Justin.tv work: our video cluster, IRC server, our web app, and our monitoring and search services, to name a few. A lot of our website is dependent on Flash, and we're looking for talented Flash Engineers who know AS2 and AS3 very well who want to be leaders in the development of our Flash.<p>Responsibilities<p><pre><code>    * Contribute to product design and implementation discussions\n    * Implement projects from the idea phase to production\n    * Test and iterate code before and after production release \n</code></pre>\nQualifications<p><pre><code>    * You should know AS2, AS3, and maybe a little be of Flex.\n    * Experience building web applications.\n    * A strong desire to work on website with passionate users and ideas for how to improve it.\n    * Experience hacking video streams, python, Twisted or rails all a plus.\n</code></pre>\nWhile we're growing rapidly, Justin.tv is still a small, technology focused company, built by hackers for hackers. Seven of our ten person team are engineers or designers. We believe in rapid development, and push out new code releases every week. We're based in a beautiful office in the SOMA district of SF, one block from the caltrain station. If you want a fun job hacking on code that will touch a lot of people, JTV is for you.<p>Note: You must be physically present in SF to work for JTV. Completing the technical problem at <a href=\"http://www.justin.tv/problems/bml\" rel=\"nofollow\">http://www.justin.tv/problems/bml</a> will go a long way with us. Cheers!",
  "time" : 1210981217,
  "title" : "Justin.tv is looking for a Lead Flash Engineer!",
  "type" : "job",
  "url" : ""
}

poll: https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/item/126809.json?print=pretty

{
  "by" : "pg",
  "descendants" : 54,
  "id" : 126809,
  "kids" : [ 126822, 126823, 126993, 126824, 126934, 127411, 126888, 127681, 126818, 126816, 126854, 127095, 126861, 127313, 127299, 126859, 126852, 126882, 126832, 127072, 127217, 126889, 127535, 126917, 126875 ],
  "parts" : [ 126810, 126811, 126812 ],
  "score" : 46,
  "text" : "",
  "time" : 1204403652,
  "title" : "Poll: What would happen if News.YC had explicit support for polls?",
  "type" : "poll"
}

and one of its parts: https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/item/160705.json?print=pretty

{
  "by" : "pg",
  "id" : 160705,
  "parent" : 160704,
  "score" : 335,
  "text" : "Yes, ban them; I'm tired of seeing Valleywag stories on News.YC.",
  "time" : 1207886576,
  "type" : "pollopt"
}

Users

Users are identified by case-sensitive ids, and live under https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/user/. Only users that have public activity (comments or story submissions) on the site are available through the API.

Field Description
id The user's unique username. Case-sensitive. Required.
delay Delay in minutes between a comment's creation and its visibility to other users.
created Creation date of the user, in Unix Time.
karma The user's karma.
about The user's optional self-description. HTML.
submitted List of the user's stories, polls and comments.

For example: https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/user/jl.json?print=pretty

{
  "about" : "This is a test",
  "created" : 1173923446,
  "delay" : 0,
  "id" : "jl",
  "karma" : 2937,
  "submitted" : [ 8265435, 8168423, 8090946, 8090326, 7699907, 7637962, 7596179, 7596163, 7594569, 7562135, 7562111, 7494708, 7494171, 7488093, 7444860, 7327817, 7280290, 7278694, 7097557, 7097546, 7097254, 7052857, 7039484, 6987273, 6649999, 6649706, 6629560, 6609127, 6327951, 6225810, 6111999, 5580079, 5112008, 4907948, 4901821, 4700469, 4678919, 3779193, 3711380, 3701405, 3627981, 3473004, 3473000, 3457006, 3422158, 3136701, 2943046, 2794646, 2482737, 2425640, 2411925, 2408077, 2407992, 2407940, 2278689, 2220295, 2144918, 2144852, 1875323, 1875295, 1857397, 1839737, 1809010, 1788048, 1780681, 1721745, 1676227, 1654023, 1651449, 1641019, 1631985, 1618759, 1522978, 1499641, 1441290, 1440993, 1436440, 1430510, 1430208, 1385525, 1384917, 1370453, 1346118, 1309968, 1305415, 1305037, 1276771, 1270981, 1233287, 1211456, 1210688, 1210682, 1194189, 1193914, 1191653, 1190766, 1190319, 1189925, 1188455, 1188177, 1185884, 1165649, 1164314, 1160048, 1159156, 1158865, 1150900, 1115326, 933897, 924482, 923918, 922804, 922280, 922168, 920332, 919803, 917871, 912867, 910426, 902506, 891171, 807902, 806254, 796618, 786286, 764412, 764325, 642566, 642564, 587821, 575744, 547504, 532055, 521067, 492164, 491979, 383935, 383933, 383930, 383927, 375462, 263479, 258389, 250751, 245140, 243472, 237445, 229393, 226797, 225536, 225483, 225426, 221084, 213940, 213342, 211238, 210099, 210007, 209913, 209908, 209904, 209903, 170904, 165850, 161566, 158388, 158305, 158294, 156235, 151097, 148566, 146948, 136968, 134656, 133455, 129765, 126740, 122101, 122100, 120867, 120492, 115999, 114492, 114304, 111730, 110980, 110451, 108420, 107165, 105150, 104735, 103188, 103187, 99902, 99282, 99122, 98972, 98417, 98416, 98231, 96007, 96005, 95623, 95487, 95475, 95471, 95467, 95326, 95322, 94952, 94681, 94679, 94678, 94420, 94419, 94393, 94149, 94008, 93490, 93489, 92944, 92247, 91713, 90162, 90091, 89844, 89678, 89498, 86953, 86109, 85244, 85195, 85194, 85193, 85192, 84955, 84629, 83902, 82918, 76393, 68677, 61565, 60542, 47745, 47744, 41098, 39153, 38678, 37741, 33469, 12897, 6746, 5252, 4752, 4586, 4289 ]
}

Live Data

The coolest part of Firebase is its support for change notifications. While you can subscribe to individual items and profiles, you'll need to use the following to observe front page ranking, new items, and new profiles.

Max Item ID

The current largest item id is at https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/maxitem. You can walk backward from here to discover all items.

Example: https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/maxitem.json?print=pretty

9130260

New, Top and Best Stories

Up to 500 top and new stories are at https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/topstories and https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/newstories. Best stories are at https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/beststories.

Example: https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/topstories.json?print=pretty

[ 9129911, 9129199, 9127761, 9128141, 9128264, 9127792, 9129248, 9127092, 9128367, ..., 9038733 ]

Ask, Show and Job Stories

Up to 200 of the latest Ask HN, Show HN, and Job stories are at https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/askstories, https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/showstories, and https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/jobstories.

Example: https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/askstories.json?print=pretty

[ 9127232, 9128437, 9130049, 9130144, 9130064, 9130028, 9129409, 9127243, 9128571, ..., 9120990 ]

Changed Items and Profiles

The item and profile changes are at https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/updates.

Example: https://hacker-news.firebaseio.com/v0/updates.json?print=pretty

{
  "items" : [ 8423305, 8420805, 8423379, 8422504, 8423178, 8423336, 8422717, 8417484, 8423378, 8423238, 8423353, 8422395, 8423072, 8423044, 8423344, 8423374, 8423015, 8422428, 8423377, 8420444, 8423300, 8422633, 8422599, 8422408, 8422928, 8394339, 8421900, 8420902, 8422087 ],
  "profiles" : [ "thefox", "mdda", "plinkplonk", "GBond", "rqebmm", "neom", "arram", "mcmancini", "metachris", "DubiousPusher", "dochtman", "kstrauser", "biren34", "foobarqux", "mkehrt", "nathanm412", "wmblaettler", "JoeAnzalone", "rcconf", "johndbritton", "msie", "cktsai", "27182818284", "kevinskii", "wildwood", "mcherm", "naiyt", "matthewmcg", "joelhaus", "tshtf", "MrZongle2", "Bogdanp" ]
}